Man threatens racial suit after police stop in Glencoe
The Rev. Michael James leads marchers in the song "We Shall Overcome" along Evanston's Church Street on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. day in 2010. Tuesday, he accused Glencoe Police of racial profiling. | Richard Bajjalieh ~Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 21, 2012 11:09AM
An Evanston bicyclist who was ticketed Saturday, June 30, in Glencoe’s Sheridan Road construction zone threatened Tuesday to make a federal case of it.
The Rev. Michael James accused a white Glencoe Police officer of racial profiling because of the circumstances surrounding his $25 ticket.
He said he plans a press conference outside the police station, 325 Hazel Ave., at 11 a.m. Saturday, July 7, to “challenge the continuous uncontested policy of racial profiling by police officers” and announce an upcoming “civil rights case in the Northern District of Illinois.”
James, 52, is the author of several books with racial themes, including “Absent - The Assimilation of African American Males Into Nonbeing.”
He said he had pedaled north into the one-way-north construction zone, then turned around to go south — illegal in the construction zone — on the sidewalk next to the officer’s parked squad car. He said he didn’t realize he was breaking the law.
He said she angrily told him he was getting a ticket, though he maintained he was just turning around to continue his 26-mile round trip to south Evanston, part of a training regimen for a marathon.
“And that was where my nightmare began,” he said, and recounted how four white bicyclists slowly passed unmolested while she wrote him a ticket. A few minutes later, he said she ignored two northbound white bicyclists, too.
Bicycle riding is allowed in the zone between downtown Glencoe and Lake-Cook Road, as long as it’s northbound.
James said he called the police and complained, and was offered a call by the ticket-writing officer, but he never received one. He then called Chief Michael Volling Monday, and was perturbed that Volling had not been told about the incident, as he had asked.
Volling expressed surprise Tuesday when told of the possible suit.
“We’d issued citations to a fair number of bicyclists in violation of the signs, and I can assure the reverend that he was not singled out because of his race,” Volling said. “I will need a little time to complete the investigation, talking to everybody on our end, and until I do, I cannot comment further.”
Deputy Chief of Public Safety Al Kebby was quoted about the southbound traffic ban for a June 11 Glencoe News story that ran on Pioneer Press Web news pages in every North Shore town.
He commented that some bicyclists try to pedal right through on their weekend jaunts as if the warning signs and barricades didn’t exist.
“They obviously don’t think it applies to them,” he said.